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Hertford, Council of


The first general assembly of the whole English Church (Sept. 26, 672), summoned by theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury (669690), after 3 1/2 years of visitation, reform, and consecration of bishops to fill vacancies throughout England. By its most important canons the Council of Hertford reaffirmed the Roman calculation of Easter (c.1), prohibited bishops from intruding in the affairs of neighboring dioceses (c.2), forbade monks to leave their monasteries without permission of their abbots (c.4), provided for future episcopal synods twice a year if possible, but at least annually (c.7), established the order of precedence among bishops according to dates of consecration (c.8), and recognized adultery as the only basis for divorce while forbidding a divorced man to remarry (c.10). The council marked a new stage in the growth of Christianity in England and the end of the period of regional churches related to each other only tenuously if at all. It inaugurated an established diocesan system under the forms of synodal government to replace the earlier practice of migratory and often ill-disciplined clergy, both regular and secular.

See Also: easter controversy.

Bibliography: bede, Historia Ecclesiastica 4.5. a. w. haddan and w. stubbs, eds., Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, 3 v. in 4 (Oxford 186978) 3:118122. c. j. godfrey, The Church in Anglo-Saxon England (New York 1962).

[r. s. hoyt]

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